Teachers' Edition: Grades 3-6 (Lesson Plans)

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Key Concepts: international relations, foreign intervention

Duration: two (2) double-blocks (middle and high school), four (4) class periods (elementary school)

Goal: Students will understand the decision-making process behind foreign intervention in the domestic affairs of countries experiencing political upheaval.

Objective: Students will learn how decisions to intervene in the internal affairs of another state are arrived at by the international community.

Essential Question: When is intervention in the affairs of another country warranted?

Common Core Standards Met: CCR English Language Arts Standards 7-10

21st-Century Skills Employed: Global Awareness


Session One:

  • Introduce topic and question, then direct students to view the following YouTube videos (non-tech alternative: copy and distribute magazine or newspaper articles on the Syrian unrest):
  • Turkey talks tough as Syrian violence boils over border
  • Syrian violence is open warfare says opposition
  • President Bashar al-Assad's Speech Highlights (English Subtitles)
  • Break the class into three (3) groups, with two students set aside; identify one group or three students as “Syrian protesters,” another group of three as the “Syrian government,” and the third group, the remainder of the class, as the “United Nations.”  Identify the two set-aside students as “Russia” and “China.”  Have the “protesters” and the “government” each group create a Google doc (non-tech alternative: butcher paper) listing their demands for a cessation of violence; have “Russia” and “China” do likewise with an inclination toward the “government’s” position.
  • Session Two

  • At the beginning of class, seat the “United Nations” in the middle of the room.  Seat the “protesters” and “government” on opposite sides of the “United Nations.”  Place “Russia” and “China” near but not with the “Syrian government.”  Have the two sides present their demands to the “United Nations,” with the “protesters” arguing for international intervention -- either sanctions or military force; have “Russia” and “China” make the case against intervention. 
  • Once the two groups and “Russia” and “China” have presented their arguments, have the “United Nations” discuss whether or not to impose sanctions, intervene militarily, or do nothing.  The discussion must consider the following:
  • financial costs involved (sanctions & military intervention)
  • possible loss of life (military intervention)
  • possible escalation of violent suppression of dissent (sanctions)
  • possible aggravation of tensions in the MIddle East (sanctions & military intervention)
  • possible destabilization of other regimes in the region (sanctions & military intervention)
  • Follow-up Discussion, “To Intervene or Not to Intervene?”: In whole group, discuss whether or not the international community should intervene in the affairs of independent states?  If so, when?  And, are the costs worth the benefits?
  • Assessment: Assess each student’s individual presentation based the rubric below (alternative -- group grade, based on median letter score):
  • Student’s name: _________________________________________________________  
                                                    Oral Presentation/Debate Grading Rubric



    General presentation (fluidity, organization)

    Excellent = 5
    Good = 4
     Average = 3
    Below Average = 2
    None = 1

    Creativity, Originality, and Effort (strength of argument, persuasiveness, collaboration with others)

    Exceptional = 5
    Good = 4
    As expected = 3
    Less than expected = 2
    Not apparent = 1

    Applied Knowledge (use of material and concepts learned)

    Solid application of learned material = 5
    Very good application of learned material = 4
    Adequate application = 3
    Weak application = 2
    No apparent application = 1

    Comprehension (understanding of topic/assignment)

    Excellent comprehension = 5
    Good comprehension = 4
    Average comprehension = 3
    Weak comprehension = 2
    No comprehension = 1

                                       Highest Possible Average Points


                                                      Total Average Points


    Letter Grade


    Grade Scale: 5 (A), 4 (B), 3 (C), 2 (D), 1 (F)

    Materials/Resources Required

    Non-tech: butcher paper, colored pens and/or pencils; computer access to Internet and Google suite (Google docs)


    sanctions: restrictions on trade and finance designed to punish a country for misbehavior
    political dissent: open voicing of views that differ from those of the government
    international community: all the nations of the world working together


    Syria teaching resources at PBS Newshour

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